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Iceland goes Open Source March 21, 2012

Posted by Mark Hillary in Current Affairs, Internet, IT Services, Software.
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The Open Source software movement has always suffered an image problem because people brought up to respect copyright and trademarks struggle to understand the concept of how intellectual property can be free.

Advocates of Open Source argue that free generally means freedom rather than free of cost – the software itself may be free, but users will always need to pay for installation, maintenance, upgrades and customisations. It is never entirely free.

Open source has long been in the mainstream for those who specify and design technology systems. WordPress is a free content management system – often used for blogs – and yet brands like CNN, Reuters, Sony, VW, and UPS use it as the basic framework for their websites.

But there are also Open Source operating systems and office tools – replacing the need for licensed products such as Microsoft Windows and Office… Excel and Word for example. These have not really taken off in the enterprise because everyone works using those formats – you want to use Word and be able to send a document to anyone else.

But if the Open Source tools can recognise those file formats and work in just the same way then perhaps the end is in sight for expensive licenses in the enterprise? The government of Iceland certainly thinks so. As a cost-cutting move they have just ordered all public bodies to ditch licensed products from companies like Microsoft and Oracle and to migrate to free solutions instead.

Iceland needs to save cash, but if an entire government can plan for a migration across all departments with just a one-year time frame for migration then just imagine what most companies could achieve too…

dancing  Auroras
  Photo by Álfheiður Magnúsdóttir licensed under Creative Commons

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Better to be safe than Sony October 17, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Hardware, Internet.
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The last few weeks have featured one technology disaster story after another and two of the big ones involved Sony – no stranger to controversy after their Playstation network was hacked earlier this year and the personal payment details of about 77m users were compromised.

Even worse, none of the data was encrypted – a basic error for a company with so much personal data.

Their latest woes surround the recall of around 1.6m televisions because of a fire risk, more of a smoking set than smoking gun. The incidents are clearly not connected, but it is causing immense damage to the brand itself, once the very measure of global quality and expertise in electronic products.

And if Sony are feeling the heat then think of how the executive team of Research in Motion are feeling. The makers of the Blackberry smartphones are recoiling from the pain of tens of millions of their users losing all Internet access (including email) for several days last week.

Blackberry has been suffering for the past few years anyway. The traditional corporate users have been switching to iPhone and Android handsets and the brand has failed to resonate as ‘cool’ with the young. Couple this gentle descent with the recent outage and they might be facing a tailspin – certainly in confidence if not in actual user numbers yet.

Most users – personal or corporate – are locked into contracts, but at the contract expiry they are free to explore other options and this could be extremely damaging for the company in a year or so.

The old expression about capitalism coined by Marx was that ‘creative destruction’ ensures that older ways of doing things get destroyed by the new. We always expect new innovative companies to come along and shake up the world of technology, but when the giants of technology start shaking the ground through their own mistakes and errors many would suggest that they deserve to suffer.
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